Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Tuesday DVD Release Recommendation

In Memory of Chris Farley - Alumni of Marquette University, Hilarious Comedian, and a Wonderful Human Being

Purchase 'Tommy Boy - Holy Schnike Edition' from Barnes & Noble Today!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Crowe: A-List Charity Campaigners Do It for the Publicity

Source: The Internet Movie Database

Russell Crowe has launched a scathing attack on A-list charity campaigners including Bono and Sir Bob Geldof - because he believes they only want publicity. The Antipodean actor regularly donates to charity outside of the glare of the media spotlight and urges other stars to give quietly without publicly martyring themselves. He says, "I do my bit to improve the world but I think it's very important to get things done on the quiet. I'm sick to death of famous people standing up and using their celebrity to promote a cause. If I see a particular need, I do try to help. But there's a lot that can be achieved by putting a cheque in the right place and shutting up about it."

Toby Keith Set to Play Bean Porter

Source: Comingsoon.net

Country music star Toby Keith will star in an untitled project for Paramount Home Entertainment/CMT, says The Hollywood Reporter.

The film centers on Bean Porter, a country music singer who has fallen from the spotlight and returns to his hometown where he is reunited with his childhood sweetheart. He also meets his 16-year-old daughter for the first time.

The movie, which is part of a two-picture film deal that Keith is negotiating with Paramount, will feature singing by Keith.

Country music video director Steven Goldmann, who helmed the documentary Bruce Springsteen: A Secret History, will direct. Shooting is set to begin in October in Atlanta.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest Teaser Poster!

Source: Comingsoon.net

40-Year-Old Virgin on Top a 2nd Weekend

Source: Comingsoon.net

Universal Pictures' The 40-Year-Old Virgin, starring Steve Carell, enjoyed first place for the second straight weekend, as the comedy pulled in an estimated $16.4 million from 2,868 theaters. The R-rated movie, budgeted at $26 million, has earned $48.7 million in its first ten days.

Terry Gilliam's new fantasy adventure The Brothers Grimm, starring Matt Damon, Heath Ledger and Monica Bellucci, settled for second place with $15.1 million from 3,087 locations. The long-delayed Dimension release cost $80 million to make.

Wes Craven thriller Red Eye dipped a respectable 35.7% in sales and added $10.4 million in its second weekend. Produced for $26 million, the DreamWorks film has collected $32.7 million in two weeks.

John Singleton's revenge thriller Four Brothers also dropped a spot with $7.8 million in its third weekend. Made for $45 million, the Paramount film has garnered $55.3 million.

The unstoppable Wedding Crashers again lost theaters and again had the lowest decline in sales of just 21.9%. New Line's $40 million blockbuster comedy, starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, rounded out the top five with $6.3 million for a total of $187.7 million in seven weeks. The movie passed up Hitch this week to become the top-grossing comedy of the year and is currently the second-biggest R-rated comedy of all-time, trailing only Beverly Hills Cop ($234.8 million).

Screen Gems' The Cave also debuted in 2,195 theaters and earned an estimated $6.2 million for the sixth spot, while Lions Gate Films' Undiscovered bombed in 18th place with just $690,000 from 1,304 locations.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Book Review - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

As I had stated once before, it was not until just recently that I had paid all that much attention toward the Harry Potter book series. The films, on the other hand, I was quite intrigued by, The Prisoner of Azkaban being the most artistic and creatively captivating in the series thus far, but I had held neither the desire nor the curiosity to pursue reading through the novels. The Goblet of Fire of course changed all that and upon finishing the fourth book I quickly proceeded onto the fifth, expecting the same breeze read as I had with the last novel.

Unfortunately for readers The Order of the Phoenix is not quite as exhilarating or fast-paced a ride as The Goblet of Fire was, this of course in large part due to the significant reduction in action throughout the novel until at least two-thirds of the way in. Needless to say this is a bit of a drawback for those who were drawn in with the last novel and this may turn some people off. Nonetheless, it remains a fascinating read right to the very end.

The only vital piece of criticism I have concerning the contents of The Order of the Phoenix lies with the death of Harry’s godfather, Sirius Black. For me at least his death near the end of the novel comes off as a bit anti-climatic. It happens so fast and without much detail directed toward it after words that it can only come off as being a bit of disappointment, especially considering the amount of hype Rowling herself put behind her hints prior to the novel’s release that a major character would be killed off. Granted, there is only so much which can be accomplished on paper that can provide the proper effect of the scene which always be drawn out more emotionally speaking onscreen, which I fully expect from the future film adaptation. But as soon as Black dies, that’s that it seems. The reader is not even given a reason as to what happened to Black when he fell through the archway behind the veil in the Department of Mysteries. There is no expectation, or at least there should not be one, that his character will reappear in the last two books in the series, with the exception of course for flashbacks, but an explanation as to what happened to him would be nice for new readers. There may be hope that this may be cleared up, if only in passing conversation, in The Half-Blood Prince.

The Order of the Phoenix does take a stand on a specific political issue, in this instance government involvement in private education, but not to extent as the blatant criticism evident in The Goblet of Fire or even The Chamber of Secrets. The fifth novel uses the introduction of a new secondary character, Professor Umbridge, an official acting on behalf of the Ministry of Magic to spy on Albus Dumbledore and the help tighten its control over the activities of Hogwarts, to criticize government involvement in private education. Immediately there is this sense of animosity toward Professor Umbridge with her arrogant interruption of Dumbledore’s opening speech and speaking down to the students as if they were nothing more then a bunch of mindless five year olds. This detestation increases as the reader proceeds through the novel and what happens to her in the end, though not as satisfactorily as one might hope, is quite amusing.

The last third of novel, in spite of the shortfall which is the death of Sirius Black, makes the novel worth reading. Dumbledore’s lengthy yet tantalizing explanation of the Lost Prophecy and its direct relation to young Harry is the most intriguing aspect of The Order of the Phoenix, something of which will undoubtedly play further in the last two books of the series. This should act as a main source of motivation for those who find themselves bored by the lack of action.

Purchase 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix' from Barnes & Noble Today!

Paramount Says Mobsters Our Only Hope in War on Terror

Source: Hollywood Confidential

Paramount's Brad Grey may be at it again. With three terror-related projects already on the boards (including Oliver Stone's 9/11 film), Variety reports that Antoine Fuqua has been hired to direct Paramount's new "By Any Means Necessary," which "centers on law enforcement turning to a jailed mobster to help prevent a possible terrorist attack." Jailed mobsters are our only hope in the War on Terror, you see.

The script for this film is being written by "The Manchurian Candidate"'s Dan Pyne. You may recall that Mr. Pyne turned "The Manchurian Candidate"'s original anti-communist storyline into an anti-corporate screed. What ingenious conceit he has in mind for this new story is anyone's guess.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Tuesday DVD Release Recommendation

"Gladiator, though marred with numerous historical inaccuracies, is quite honestly one of the most entertaining and visually engaging epic-dramas in years ... "

Purchase 'Gladiator: Extended Edition' from Barnes & Noble Today!
Be sure to visit the DVD Depot for more DVD purchasing options!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Inside 9/11: Al Qaeda, World Trade Center, September 11

I personally have not seen it myself but so far Little Green Footballs and a couple other conservative blogs have spoken very highly of National Geographic Channel’s new documentary Inside 9/11: Al Qaeda, World Trade Center, September 11 which investigates the rise of Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda as well as an accurate, to the best of our knowledge at least, blow-by-blow account of the events which took place on that fateful day back in 2001.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

DVD Depot Update

There were quite a few additions to the DVD Depot this weekend, although not many of them struck me as appealing. There is a special ten year anniversary release of Kevin Smith’s Mallrats, which I never found to be all that funny – especially following Clerks, the theatrical adaptation of the classic television series Bewitched (why Will, why!), the complete first season of the hit television series Blue Collar TV (now there’s something I’d enjoy), and Mr. and Mrs. Smith (although it was a box office success, you have to wonder whether it was because it was a good film or because of the media blitz over the rumored coupling of the two leading stars – do not know because I have not seen the film). The cover art for the two versions of Batman Begins are online as well but there currently exists no pre-order form on Barnes and Noble.com, but I will post it as soon as it becomes available to me.

Carell Comedy #1 in Virgin Weekend

Source: Comingsoon.net

In a busy August weekend with four new releases, Steve Carell's raunchy R-rated sex comedy The 40-Year-Old Virgin came out on top, earning roughly $20.5 million in 2,845 theatres, an average of $7,224. It's a good start for Carell's first feature as a leading man, and it should make back its $26 million production budget in just a few short days.

Made for the same amount of money, Wes Craven's high flying thriller Red Eye, starring Cillian Murphy and Rachel McAdams, also did decent business, grossing an estimated $16.5 million in its first weekend in 200 more theatres than Virgin.

Dropping down to third place, John Singleton's revenge thriller Four Brothers brought in another estimated $13 million, taking its box office total to $43.6 million. Only a few million away from making back its production budget, the breakout hit should prove to be another profitable summer film for Paramount Pictures.

New Line's Wedding Crashers continues to bring in business, remaining in fourth place with another $8.3 million. Having grossed almost $178 million, it's very close to passing Will Smith's Hitch to become the year's top non-action comedy.

With Red Eye entering the market, Universal's thriller The Skeleton Key, starring Kate Hudson, fell 54% from its opening weekend, grossing $7.4 million for a total of $30.1 million.

Disney's computer animated family comedy Valiant , a collaboration with the British Vanguard Studios, didn't fare as well in its opening weekend as the other new movies. Featuring voices by Ewan McGregor and John Cleese, the animated film made only $6.1 million in its first weekend, a weak average of only $3,000 per theatre for seventh place. It earned less than Warner Independent Pictures' own G-rated offering, the documentary March of the Penguins, which added another $6.7 million, slightly less than it earned last weekend, to bring its total to $48.6 million in nine weeks.

In 8th and 9th place, Warner Bros. former chart toppers, The Dukes of Hazzard and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, brought in $5.7 and $4.5 million to bring their totals up to $69 million and $192.7 million, respectively. The latter is close to becoming Warner's second $200 million of the summer, a feat that has only been achieved once before by any studio.

Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, the sequel to Rob Schneider's biggest hit, took a 63% tumble, dropping out of the Top 10 with a second weekend gross of $3.6 million, bringing its total to $17.2 million. It still has a slim shot at earning back its $22 million production budget in its U.S. theatrical run, but it's very slim.

The weekend's only other new movie, 20th Century Fox's motorcycle drama Supercross: The Movie is officially the biggest bomb of the year, having only grossed $2 million in its first five days in over 1,600 theatres. It only averaged about $817 per theatre over the three-day weekend.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Pixar Head Dies in Crash

Source: Comingsoon.net

Tragic news has been reported by The Hollywood Reporter that Pixar Animation Studios' head of story Joe Ranft, 45, died in a car crash on Tuesday after a car he was in plunged off a road in Mendocino County, California into the ocean. Ranft, who earned an Oscar nomination for co-writing Pixar's debut feature Toy Story, was not driving the vehicle.

Visit The Hollywood Reporter for testimonials from friends and colleagues.

Box Office Predictions for August 19th - 21st, 2005

  1. The 40-Year-Old Virgin - $27.1
  2. Red Eye - $15.8
  3. Four Brothers - $11.2
  4. Wedding Crashers - $8.8
  5. The Skeleton Key - $8.7
  6. March of the Penguins - $6.5
  7. The Dukes of Hazzard - $6.0
  8. Valiant - $5.7
  9. Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo - $3.9
  10. Supercross - $2.5

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Tuesday DVD Release Recommendation

"Truly stunning in terms of its scope, direction, and graphic style, which is balanced out thanks to the exceptionally amplified performances of its cast members and the pertinent dialogue throughout the two-hour movie ... "

Purchase 'Sin City' on DVD from Barnes & Noble Today!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Singleton + Four Brothers = One Big Hit

Source: Comingsoon.net

There was a killing at the box office this weekend as John Singleton's revenge thriller Four Brothers, starring Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson and Andre Benjamin, got payback on Hollywood with an opening weekend gross of roughly $20.7 million, an average of over $8,100 per theatre. It's another coup in a summer where remakes and sequels were scoffed at in favor of original ideas.

And the victim of this killing? Sony Pictures' sequel-that-no-one-wanted Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, starring Rob Schneider and Eddie Griffin. The original movie earned $65 million over the 1999 holiday season, but its sequel earned only $9.4 million its opening weekend to end up in fifth place. It ended up making less than half as much as Four Brothers in 600 more theaters with a pitiful average of $3,000 per theatre. It's another in a long line of bombs for Sony Pictures in a summer that started out with their disastrous sequel, XXX: State of the Union.

Meanwhile, Universal's "hoodoo" thriller The Skeleton Key, starring Kate Hudson, also had a healthy first weekend, opening in 2nd place with roughly $15.8 million, reviving the floundering horror genre, after a summer where they haven't done particularly well. If it follows the pattern set by other early August thrillers like The Others and The Sixth Sense, it should do decent business in the next few weeks.

Third and fourth place were snatched up by last week's #1 The Dukes of Hazzard and New Line's runaway comedy hit, Wedding Crashers. The former took a 58% tumble in its second weekend, grossing $13 million, which brought its total to $57.5 million. (The comedy remake cost $50 million to make, not including the marketing and promotional budget.) The latter may not hit $200 million this summer, but with an additional $12 million in its 5th weekend, its total is now past $164 million.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory took sixth place with $7.3 million; it has grossed over $183 million so far. The documentary March of the Penguins has shown amazing staying power, adding another $6.7 million--off only 5% from last weekend--and bringing its total to $37.6 million after 8 weeks.

Sky High and Must Love Dogs were #7 and 8, respectively.

After sitting on the shelf for many years, Miramax's war drama, The Great Raid, directed by John "Rounders" Dahl, took tenth place this weekend with a decent take of $3.3 million in only 819 theatres. It's not a great opening, but better than most expected considering its lack of starpower and marketing.

In limited release, Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers, starring Bill Murray, nearly tripled its box office in its second weekend, expanding into 118 theatres in major markets and earning $1.7 million, roughly $14,000 per theatre. Werner Herzog's nature documentary Grizzly Man, about the life and death of environmentalist Timothy Treadwell, grossed $265,000 its opening weekend in just 29 theatres, an average of $9,137 per theatre.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Book Review - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

It has been years since I last picked up novel in the Harry Potter series and quite forcibly I might add having just purchased the hard-cover edition of the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, for my parents who, regrettably, are more caught up in reading the series then I am. It was much the same situation with the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s (or Philosopher’s, depending on where you live) Stone, which I only began reading to see what all the fuss was about as the release of the feature film adaptation quickly approached. I was not able to finish the book in time and did so only after seeing the movie in theaters during its opening weekend. I began reading the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but regrettably failed to even get half-way through it by the time the movie came out. After that I stopped trying and admitted to myself that it was better to simply watch the films then to read the books and become a nit-picker whenever something was not presented in the film adaptations.

I do happen to enjoy the feature film series quite a bit actually. Unmistakably they are entertaining on one level or another, depending on which film you are talking about, and, from at least a film critic’s perspective, enthusiasm for them increase with each new adaptation onscreen, the third film, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, being the best in the series thus far. Sadly, this was not enough to motivate me to pick up where I left off in the book series, at least until now.

I have to admit that I am quite excited about the release of the upcoming film adaptation, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and judging by the overwhelming reception of the movie’s teaser trailer I am not the only one. This, and the media firestorm surround the then-impending release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (not to mention having been working at the local Wal-Mart for a portion of the summer I heard the advertisements enough to be practically brainwashed into reading it), is what got me to pick up the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and begin reading over the course of the rest of my summer vacation. Surprisingly I was able to finish the novel much quicker then I had anticipated and, much to my chagrin, in a faster pace then the political books I have usually found myself reading, political science being of course my major after all.

There were several items of note within the novel that most intrigued about it and promptly induced me to read further, most remarkably its ability to deal with certain subjects, such as death, torture, slavery, and, yes, even politics, in a series designed for children. Normally this practice would never be attempted and if it were and was done in a half-assed fashion, as some authors at this point in their success are proned to do, it can quickly turn off its fan base. Rowling, however, successfully avoids this fatal mistake and matures her material and characters right alongside her audience so that the connection young readers have had with them remains and even grows stronger as the series goes on.

Given the state of skepticism the public has regarding media journalism, not only in the United States but around the world, more noticeable now following the election of President George W. Bush in 2000 and again in 2004 then ever before, it is remarkable, not to mention amusing, to see how easily manipulative the media can be should they have a partisan agenda or rhetoric.

The inclusion of the Tri-wizard Tournament, though I did question why it continued to be referred to by this name when in fact there were four wizards, albeit with one unintentionally selected by the Goblet of Fire, in the competition, with the usual goings-on within the grounds of Hogwarts and the growing threat of Lord Voldemort make for exhilarating and fast-paced novel.

Although such delicate issues as race, purity, and superiority were all certainly touched upon within Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, this of course with the introduction of wizard racial slur ‘mud-blood’, the Goblet of Fire takes it much further, introducing scenes that are disturbingly reminiscent of the Klu Klux Klan in the United States following the loss of the Confederacy in the Civil War and Nazism in 1930s Germany. It may not be too apparent to its target audience but for older readers it will be all too recognizable.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is an inviting read for those of any age, even for those who have not picked a book in the Harry Potter series for quite some time. If even just half the action which appears in this novel ends up in the feature film adaptation, due out in theaters this November, fans will be satisfied. Judging by the recently announced PG-13 rating for the film, things are already looking up for the adaptation.

Purchase 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire' from Barnes & Noble Today!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Welcome to the Suck!

Speaking of American Beauty, director Sam Mendes, who also helmed the critically acclaimed Road to Perdition, has Hollywood buzzing with his new project, Jarhead, which is set for release in theatres on November 4th, 2005. And judging by the film’s teaser trailer which was released this past Friday, it does not take much to guess why. Based on former Marine Anthony Swofford's best-selling anti-war tome, “Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles”, the film adaptation is suppose to act as a direct parallel to the current conflict in Iraq. Sure, they could easily develop an original story based on the modern war in Iraq and use it as a propagandist tool to protest the U.S. military involvement but that would be too easy, even by Hollywood standards. They want to set it up in such a way which makes it seem as if they are intelligent and yet keep it simplistic enough for the simple-minded and naïve to walk away entirely brain-washed. And to top it all off, the feature film adaptation of Jarhead was written William Broyles Jr. who served in the Vietnam War, a point the filmmakers have been quick to promote about this film’s screenplay. I can understand the left comparing the Operation Iraqi Freedom to the war in Vietnam, I may not agree with it but I can understand given that this is turning out to be a lengthy military operation, but this is set against the original Persian Gulf War which in no way pales in comparison to Vietnam, let alone the current war in Iraq. Click the picture below, watch the teaser trailer and decide for yourself. Welcome to the suck!

Friday, August 12, 2005

"What Are You? Like Some Red-Neck Blogger Pig?"

I have never taken the time to watch HBO’s Six Feet Under, a series which revolves around a family running a funeral home following the death of their patriarch, nor do I have any real intention to now especially since the drama is wrapping up its final season this year. To be honest I do not watch HBO all that much except for The Sopranos, which I can always view on DVD as well in spite of the steep price for each season, and occasionally Dead Wood, though that is certainly few and far between particular during the school year where I do not receive HBO. Six Feet Under is a dark dramatic series from the creative mind of Alan Ball who wrote the script for the Academy Award-winning American Beauty which I always found to be quite bizarre and a bit too depressing for my taste.

I bring this up because the Media Research Center recently posted a cyber-alert in which they stated that the July 31st episode of the Emmy-winning HBO series was ripe with left-wing Republican bashing, taking swipes at everything from Nancy Reagan to the war in Iraq, Abu Gharib prison to “red-neck blogger pig[s]”. Claire Fisher, played in the series by Lauren Ambrose, a struggling artist (there’s a surprise) fresh out of college who has quite a history to explain her vitriolic rants. According to Claire’s biography on the series’ website, she “struggled through a difficult childhood” which was marred by the death of her father on Christmas Eve after which she “had to drive herself to the hospital high on crystal meth”. Recently “an ecstasy trip” inspires her to create “an imaginative photography installation, which earns Claire a gallery show and an elevated new status”. So, in short, the typical left-wing, drug-hawking college hippie. While on a date with a lawyer at a law firm where she is tempting, Claire grumbles “we've stumbled upon a Republican nest” upon entering the restaurant they have come to for dinner. She later asserts “Here they feel safe in their fancy restaurant while that stupid, evil war goes on and on”, which provokes her boyfriend to disagree with her. Whether it was drugs, alcohol, a combination of the two, or her just being a prick, Claire goes on to shout down her boyfriend by calling him “some red-neck blogger pig” and criticizing him for “rationalize away all moral responsibility” at law school. Is there any wonder why she is depressed, poor, pathetic, and alone? With an attitude and a vocabulary composition like that, who would dare go near her?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Closing of a Chapter ... The Moose Hole (2002 - 2005)

This has to be one of the toughest decisions I have had to make in the last few years but I have finally come to the decision to partially-abandon The Moose Hole website. The Moose Hole was, for the past two years, the site I used to publish reviews of past and present feature films and I had a lot of fun working on it during that time. I am quite the movie junkie so working on this website went far beyond the level of a mere hobby, bordering quite possibly on obsession, but in a good way. Sadly, with college, work, and, surprisingly, a growing personal life, time spent on the site has been dwindling down to the point that it no longer made sense for me to waste time on it. I say I will “partially abandon” the site because The Moose Hole will continue to exist in some form or another on this weblog. At the current moment I have no idea what form it will take but I hope to place the archive of reviews as well as a number of pages (DVD Depot, The Screening Room, etc.) and place them here. It was fun while it lasted and I hope in the near future to resurrect the site if I can but for right now I want to concentrate my efforts on this weblog and the political possibilities for me it may entail in the near future.

With that being said, I have taken the liberty of updating the DVD Depot with a few minor additions, including The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, House of Wax (2005), and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I would also like to remind visitors that Robert Rodriguez’s dazzling spectacle Sin City comes to DVD next week (bare bones edition only, but a two-disc special edition is expected to announced in a month or two) and is still available for pre-order through the site. Simply click on the cover art below or visit the DVD Depot for more options.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Judge Calls Disney's Eisner 'Machiavellian'

Is this the embodiment of the totalitarian like authoritative values set down by Niccolo Machiavelli? The judge in Michael Ovitz’ court case against the Walt Disney Corporation, despite ruling against him, seems to think so. Read Disney War if you are interested in Michael Eisner's incessant desire to retain power within the hollowed halls of Disney.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

As you are likely well aware of by now, I am a big fan of the Walt Disney Company, particularly their theme park division. I am hoping to receive an internship at the Walt Disney World Resort in the near future should the opportunity to participate in the program present itself. I have, however, as of late been quite critical of the direction in which I believe the company is moving toward, though in all honesty that criticism is reserved more for former company chairman and CEO Michael Eisner and Robert Iger then the company itself. In spite of this, I have taken every chance I can find in defending the Walt Disney Corporation against the relentless and vitriolic aspersion of the media, specifically the Orlando Sentinel whose contempt of the Walt Disney World Resort and the Disney Company in general is not exactly a well kept secret to anyone, let alone Disney fans. The theme of the summer season this year has been to exploit every single death which has taken place at the theme park destination and criticize Disney World management for their lack of concern for the safety of their patrons, whether the operating system of the attraction in question or the lack of safety concerns (something I find unbelievable in place like Walt Disney World where there twenty signs warning those with health problems to avoid specific attractions before they even prepare to board their vehicles) had any relation to their death or not. An upsurge in theme park-related injuries and fatalities is clearly existent this year but maybe that has more to do with the amount of media attention focused on the domestic theme park division of the company then the actual statistics in comparison to previous years. For example, remember when the media made a huge deal about the flu vaccines after several children had died from complications with the virus and there was a state of panic amongst the public about receiving their vaccination? Turns out that the number of children that year who died of the flu was less then in previous years and that the several children who did die of the flu had already contracted serious diseases which in turn shut down their immune system, thus allowing the flu virus to finish them off, so to speak. This may apply as well to the situation down in Florida. Do these deaths, though tragic, count as headline news when they are in no way related to the operation or safety of the theme park attractions in question? A seventy-seven year old woman who was in poor health from diabetes and several ministrokes died on Pirates of the Caribbean in February 2005. A four-year old died on Mission: Space on June 13th, 2005. Given the attraction’s forty-four inch height requirement (the child surprisingly met the requirement despite his age which may be reason as to why he died) and the frequent warnings prior to boarding the attraction indicated the intensity of the ride, Disney shares no fault in the death of the child. A sixteen-year old British girl wound up in critical condition (her heart actually stopped beating for a short period of time and she had to be resuscitated) after riding The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror multiple times (six times within one week) which in turn exacerbated a pre-existing condition. A thirty-year old man’s death aboard Animal Kingdom’s Dinosaur (formerly Countdown to Extinction) on July 23rd was attributed to previously reported heart-relation complications. The latest report is of a twelve year-old who passed out at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon on Thursday, August 4th, 2005, and died shortly thereafter. Mouse Planet, a website which dedicates itself to Disneyland and everything else Disney, has chimed in with its assessment of the media-hype, questioning why deaths at Walt Disney World (or any other Disney theme park for that matter) are that surprising given the rather large amount of people, roughly one-hundred thousand per day, that visit the vacation destination.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Dukes of the Box Office

Source: Comingsoon.net

After bringing in $12.5 million on Friday, it was no surprise that Warner Bros' big screen version of The Dukes of Hazzard, with Seann William Scott, Johnny Knoxville and Jessica Simpson, topped the box office its opening weekend with just over $30.5 million, an average of roughly $8,000 per theater.

It brought down the two titans that had been ruling over the box office for weeks, as New Line's R-rated comedy Wedding Crashers, with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, dropped down to second place. Still, it has continued to bring in tons of business, adding roughly $16.5 million in its fourth weekend to bring its already impressive box office take over the $144 million mark.

Likewise, last week's #2 movie, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, dropped down a notch, as it added another $10.5 million to its own take keeping it just ahead of Disney's family comedy Sky High, which brought in another $9 million in its second weekend.

Still in fifth place from its opening weekend, the romantic comedy Must Love Dogs, starring Diane Lane and John Cusack, made an estimated $7.4 million as Warner Brothers' third film in the Top 5.

Also as expected, March of the Penguins became the second highest grossing documentary of all time, earning $7.13 million in its widest release to date after expanding into over 1,800 theatres nationwide on Friday.

Rob Cohen's Stealth had the largest weekend-to-weekend drop from last week, making $5.8 million in its second weekend. In ten days, it's only earned $24 million, less than a quarter of its production budget.

20th Century Fox's Fantastic Four took in roughly $4 million, while Michael Bay's The Island rounded out the Top 10 as it brought its box office gross to $30 million.

Craig Brewer's Hustle & Flow seems to finally be catching on with a minor drop in its third weekend to give Paramount Pictures' Bad News Bears remake a run for eleventh place, both earning an estimated $2.5 million.

Two popular filmmaking auteurs saw success with their new films in limited release. Both Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers and Wong Kar Wai's 2046, received critical raves in their Cannes Film Festival debuts, and each averaged over $27,000 per theater this weekend. Opening in almost seven times as many theatres, Broken Flowers grossed $745,000 in its opening weekend, while 2046 brought in $113,000 in just four theaters in New York and Los Angeles.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Man Behind the Black

I realize this has little, if anything, to do with the field of politics but given that I am such a fan of the late-Johnny Cash, not to mention country music in general, I could not simply let this bit of news go unnoticed here. In any event, the brand-new trailer for the Johnny Cash biopic, Walk the Line, starring Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator, Signs) and Resse Witherspoon (Sweet Home Alabama), debuted online this past week. The film from 20th Century Fox debuts in theatres on November 18th, 2005, which is quite unfortunate given that it opens two days after the release of the latest Harry Potter film. Granted, Walk the Line will likely rack up more nominations and awards in the end but the media will likely focus more on the opening of The Goblet of Fire, drawing attention, and potential audience members, from the Cash biopic. I for one am looking very forward to the film, though I am not ashamed to admit I am looking forward to the new Harry Potter film as well (the book, which I am finishing up now, is at least enjoyable – we’ll see how the new director holds up with the film adaptation).

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Pre-Order Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

"Revenge of the Sith successfully ties up all the loose ends which were left in place from the preceding entries in the series, though at times all too copiously, and brings to a head the saga’s enduring message of hope, one which has been present throughout the entire franchise, in one final climatic enterprise ... "

Pre-Order 20th Century Fox's 'Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith' from Barnes & Noble Today!